November 2009


Mike and I are working very hard to bring our courses online and to write our textbooks. Here is an excerpt from my textbook that I thought I might share with you to give you a little sneak peek, and because it’s a question that I’m often asked in my classes.


I mentioned before that a lot of what I do is based on reference material. I’d like to talk a little bit about that, because I am often asked where the intellectual property line is drawn. If I use an elephant as the basis of an elephant graphic that I create, can the original elephant photographer come back and sue me? Your best rule of thumb here is that your new artwork should not look like the original artwork, in a way that the original artist could recognize it as their own. Consider the following examples.

Here is an image that I took from Nicole’s blog, A Little Sussy.

Here is my Illustrator version of it. (For speed’s sake in demonstrating this, I just did a live trace.)

It’s obvious when you see the original and my “art” that I have simply stolen this from Nicole. There is very little that is original about my piece. In this example, actually, I don’t think that there is really anything that I would use from this picture to make my own, because anything I do would still reflect the original photograph and concept. (Unless I decide that I’d like to use the model’s shoes for another picture that I’m doing.)

Take this as another example, with apologies to the original artist, whose name I can’t find. The first image shows an elephant that I found when I did a Google Image Search for elephant.

This second image shows a mother and baby elephant, that are much more stylized versions of this original illustration.

I hope you can see the difference between the samples I’ve shown you for using reference material. Make it your own, or don’t do it. I would also be very careful if you’re using someone’s vector work as reference material. As often as possible, I choose photographs to work from so that my result is uniquely my own. If you were to use my stylized, vector elephant above as reference material for drawing an elephant, unless you were to change it dramatically, you’d be walking on very thin ice. Below, you can see an appropriate new vector elephant that used my previous vector elephant as reference material.

EXCEPTIONS: If you purchase a royalty free photo, such as a photo from, you have the rights to make your vector illustration as close to the original as you like. Also, there are lots of copyright free images that belong to the public domain because of their age. Take this illustration for example. This comes from a Dover collection of copyright free images of women. I scanned in an image from their book and performed a live trace. Although my vector version is very true to the original, I am free to use this however I like because the image is in the public domain.


I am working on a big project, which includes putting the finishing touches on my textbook based on my Photoshop 101 class.

So, I realized during it that it would be fun to have a bio photo. I ended up digging up a picture that was taken of me as a lighting test at Rubberball.  Over the years, I would occasionally stand in for lighting tests for the photographers, as basically a place-holder for someone exponentially better looking than me.
 Anyway, when I came across this photo above, I noticed the shallow depth of field, and it reminded me instantly of possibly my favorite, famous living fine artist, Chuck Close.  Chuck, among being an amazing painter (especially after being confined to a wheelchair, mid-career) is a fantastic portrait photographer.  He shoots daguerreotypes of himself and other people, that really look like his paintings, anyway I am in love with daguerreotypes right now. I have always loved them, but I studied them more in-depth than I ever have for my PS Actions class for the Art Weekend.
I have no seg-way out of this post other than to say, YAY daguerreotypes, and YAY Chuck Close.
P.S.  A message to Wayne Thiebaud: don’t worry, YOU are actually my favorite living, master, fine artist…….I just said Chuck was my favorite because it sounded good in the context of the post.



So, I haven’t posted here for a while. It’s taken me some time to adjust to not having a 9 to 5 type job. It has been harder than I could have anticipated. I think working for a company for so long, especially the same company like I have, leaves a bit of a hole in you when you realize it’s no longer a part of your life anymore, and you aren’t just on vacation from it. I know that’s funny to say about a job, after all it was just a job, but it was nice to feel needed.

Lest you think I have been twiddling my thumbs since leaving Rubberball, Alma and I had plenty of work getting ready for the Art Weekend we helped put on with Nicole Gerulat. Needless to say, it was a success and I am still communicating with the students that took my classes so that they can have additional materials to learn from. It was hard packing so much material in 2 hour classes.

Anyway, since then Nicole, being a seemingly endless, generous supply of work for us, contacted me a few days ago about doing a SAVE-THE-DATE card for a woman that is getting married soon. She wanted it to resemble a vintage travel postcard, using her wedding colors.

I must say, this is my first SAVE-THE-DATE postcard, but I enjoyed the process. It feels good to be drawing on paper again. It’s been a while.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.


I have some new Christmas designs at Pebbles in My Pocket, that can be purchased in stores or online! I had a blast creating these Christmas designs. I’ll let you know when some of my other Christmas designs are up for sale! These are 3×3 gift tag cards. I’ll be adding some more of these soon and some folding cards.

I love working with Pebbles!! If you haven’t been in the store for a while, make a special trip in!